Overshadowed by this week’s parliamentary elections in Israel is another vote, also crucial to Jewish life in Israel and the diaspora, in which most Jews in this country can participate.
Registration is underway until the end of April for voting in the World Zionist Organization elections, which will choose delegates for the next World Zionist Congress, held every five years, to take place in Jerusalem in October.
The Congress, first convened by Theodor Herzl in Basel in 1897, is essentially the international parliament of the Jewish people. An umbrella organization, it debates such issues as responses to anti-Semitism, Jewish identity and the future of the Middle East peace process. It is also responsible for a multimillion-dollar budget allotted to WZO institutions and Jewish causes — like education, social services and urban renewal — around the world.
The outcome of the election also indicates to Israeli leaders which way the political winds are blowing abroad, and determines the direction that organized Jewish life may take in the next half-decade.
Eleven slates from this country — Americans represent 29 percent of the 500 Congress delegates — are competing this year. They represent such disparate factions of U.S. Jewry as the Reform movement, the Conservative movement, the liberal Americans for Peace Now and the hawkish Zionist Organization of America.
The makeup of the American delegation will affect both Israeli and WZO expenditures, influenced by trends indicated by the voting.
Eligibility requirements are simple: anyone who is 18 or older, Jewish, and a permanent resident of the U.S., and did not vote in this week’s Israeli elections. Eligible voters must “subscribe to the Jerusalem Program,” which supports the “centrality of the State of Israel and Jerusalem,” “the future and the distinctiveness of the Jewish people,” and aliyah “and the effective immigration of all immigrants into Israeli society.”
The registration fee is $5 for persons age 30 and under; $10 for people 31 and above.
Registration information is available at myselfourisrael.com.
We encourage your participation, ensuring that your voice is heard.